The JIT formed by the SC, which was headed by Wajid Zia, stands fully exposed and discredited after the cross-examination of Robert Radley through a video-link. The defence lawyers were successful in drilling holes in the evidence produced by JIT in the Avenfield case when the witness retracted from his earlier report on the basis of which the JIT claimed that the deed between Maryam Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz executed in 2006 and typed in ‘calibri’ font could be a forged document as the font was not commercially available before January 31, 2007.
The JIT referring to Hadley report had said “He identified the type font used to produce both certified declarations as ‘Calibiri’. However, the font was not commercially available before Jan 31, 2007, and as such the documents are not correctly dated and appear to have been created at some later point in time” The insinuation was that the documents were forged. Echoes of this were heard in the court, and a campaign was also launched in the media to create the desired impression.
The edifice of the evidence produced by JIT came crumbling down when during the cross-examination Radley admitted that Window Vista issued three editions, the first was released on Jan 31, 2007 and the first edition of Window Vista Beta was issued in 2005 for the IT experts and tens of thousands of experts were using Beta 1 version and he also downloaded it over 20 times. He also admitted that the report rendered by him could be updated if originals and ink-dating analysis was carried out because he acted in haste. What it means is that he analyzed the documents without the facility of ink-dating which is indeed mind-boggling. How could he then precisely comment regarding the dating of the documents? That raises serious questions on the report rendered by him to JIT.
Another fascinating aspect of the whole affair that came to light was that contrary to the impression created in Pakistan that Robert Radley was a font expert he turned out to be a handwriting expert. He confessed that he was not an IT expert, computer expert or a law expert. Radley, when asked by the lawyers, admitted that he had not even read the whole trust deed and saw only two deeds on which he was asked to comment by the local lawyer Akhtar Riaz Raja without telling him where that report was going to be used.
Akhtar Raja who was presented as a law expert based in London is cousin of Wajid Zia who hired him and reportedly paid a hefty amount of money to have the job accomplished. It is, for sure, a case of nepotism on the part of the JIT head and betrayal of the trust reposed in him by the SC, which should invoke legal action against him. Interestingly Akhtar Raja during the cross-examination revealed that his testimony was based on an article that appeared in daily Dawn.
As also transpired during the cross-examination, Radley held a meeting with the NAB intelligence officer and Deputy Chief Prosecutor the night before recording his evidence which is against the professional ethics and fairness. It indicates that NAB officials were hell bent to achieve political objectives and a hidden agenda.
Given the foregoing facts, the whole exercise conducted by JIT looks a farce and travesty of justice. Perhaps another JIT needs to be constituted to probe the conduct of the JIT formed by the SC in the Panama case. It was a very high profile case in which the Prime Minister of the country was under investigation, and as such, it was imperative to produce authentic and irrefutable evidence which could stand the test in the court of law rather than relying on frivolous, flimsy and doctored evidence. Perhaps that probably was never the purpose of the undertaking.
The results achieved through cross-examination of Robert Radley not only prove that the JIT, especially its head acted in a partisan way but also reinforce and corroborate the authenticity of the documents produced by the Sharif family. A lawyer at the Freeman Solicitors had confirmed that he had signed and attested the Trust Deed with his stamp upon meeting with the two persons, seeing originals. That testimony is beyond reproach as it is simply impossible to prove that the English solicitor was wrong in certifying that the deed was signed in 2006.
It has indeed lent currency to the narrative of the Sharif family that it was being victimized through a process of witch-hunt. In fact, right from the beginning the Panama case has remained mired in controversies and misgivings. The verdict of the SC to disqualify the former Prime Minister was not based on the prayers made in the petitions, and instead, he was sent home on the basis of non-receipt of salary from the company of his son, which the court treated as an asset not declared and ‘Iqama’. The verdict came under severe criticism by the legal and constitutional experts. The decision in Imran’s case also invoked a huge controversy, and even the former CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had to say that Imran had been provided relief by the court whereas his case was similar to that of Nawaz Sharif. Is it not amusing that even Imran Khan in an interview with a private TV channel termed the verdict against Nawaz as a ‘weak decision’ saying that the case against him was regarding Panama, but he was disqualified on the basis of ‘Iqama’.
The most worrying fact is that the decisions given by the SC have not added to its prestige. The people refuse to accept that justice had been done. It is quite evident from the support and response that Nawaz Sharif and PML (N) received from the masses as reflected in the winning of by-elections by the party in Chakwal and most importantly from Lodhran.
The judiciary is the most sanctimonious institution of the state, and the edifice of the state is built on justice that is not only done but is seen to be done. The ostensible ambiance of confrontation between the judiciary and the PML (N) is not in the national interest. In my columns, I have persistently maintained that the SC should not have accepted the petitions by PTI and others in the highly politicized case as it would not be able to emerge unscathed from it. That is what exactly has happened.
While it is advisable for the PML (N) to lower the temperature, the judiciary also needs to ensure that in the remaining cases justice was not only done but was seen to be done, keeping in view the facts that have emerged in the Avenfield case after the cross-examination of the witnesses.
The writer is a freelance columnist.
The most worrying fact is that the decisions given by the SC have not added to its prestige. The people refuse to accept that justice had been done.